Japanese Grand Prix red-flagged after multiple first-lap incidents at Suzuka

Henry Valantine
Japanese Grand Prix red flag. Suzuka October 2022.

Marshals at the Japanese Grand Prix wave the red flag as the race is suspended. Suzuka October 2022.

The Japanese Grand Prix was red-flagged at a wet Suzuka after several incidents were recorded on a frenetic first lap.

Two drivers went out of the race after first-lap troubles, Carlos Sainz losing control of his Ferrari and sliding into the wall at the right-hand kink out of the hairpin, smashing his rear wing in the process.

Behind him, Alex Albon also had to retire after a hydraulic issue coming out of the hairpin himself, while the pit-lane-starting Pierre Gasly was caught by surprise as he had a scary moment in which a loose advertising hoarding went in front of his car and got caught on his front wing – propelled onto track through damage by Sainz’s Ferrari.

The AlphaTauri driver was furious in the garage after the race was red-flagged, most likely through shock as much as anything else, but the angriest moment he had, understandably, came when he came close to a recovery vehicle on the edge of the track while heading back around to the pit lane when the race was red-flagged.

Given the circumstances behind Jules Bianchi’s tragic crash at the same circuit in 2014, the anger from within Gasly’s cockpit will have been justified, calling it “unacceptable” as he went by in worsening conditions, as the drivers made their way back to the pits.

Elsewhere, Sebastian Vettel was also caught up in a problem at the first corner, tagging the Alpine of Fernando Alonso as they went into the opening complex. He was able to keep going, but dropped significantly down the field.

Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu also failed to get the power down properly on the exit of the hairpin at Suzuka, being sent into a spin as he looked to get back on the throttle.

The Japanese Grand Prix was held for more than two hours before the cars got back on track through a rolling start behind the Safety Car, but the recovery vehicle problem will be the most likely point for debate throughout the remainder of the day at Suzuka.

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